Political situation still dicey, say analysts

(The Star) – A change in government could happen anytime given the fragmented political landscape in the country, says a political analyst.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said this coupled with the fact that the unity government’s stability very much depends on the support of MPs.

He said a potential power grab, which was acknowledged by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on May 1, was being driven by the desire to attain power for self-enrichment.

“This remains a resource-rich country. With power comes the opportunity to exploit these resources for self-enrichment.

“The 1MDB scandal and the series of corruption cases are just the tip of the iceberg,” he said when contacted.

Oh said another power grab would not bode well for Malaysia as economic development would suffer, adding that it would drive investors away.

Political scientist Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of the International Islamic University Malaysia said another coup would be disastrous and be “an insult to the people’s voice”.

“It will potentially spell the end of democracy. It will be a Sheraton Move 2.0 where the government is decided by politicians with self-interest and not what the people choose at the ballot box,” he said while referring to the political coup that led to the fall of the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Pakatan Harapan government in February 2020.

Tunku Mohar said narratives of poor leadership and management were fabricated to morally justify “illegal moves to overthrow the government”.

“We cannot discount the possibility of another power grab. However, as long as the components of the unity government can uphold the agreement among them, it will not happen,” he said.

He also said the power grab might be more of a political vendetta and not so much about a clash of policies or ideologies.

“Some politicians are honest. The dishonest ones would want to return to power to enjoy the perks.

“They are definitely lying when they say they are doing it for the people when what they wanted is to cover their past wrongdoings.

“In a sense, the Sheraton Move was motivated by self interests. Defectors from PKR and Bersatu thought that they won’t have important roles in government if Anwar became Prime Minister and they feared losing Malay support,” he said.

Umno factions at the time also colluded with these defectors as they feared their leaders would be hauled to court, Tunku Mohar added.

Universiti Sains Malaysia professor of political sociology Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the rat race for power by opposition parties now could be fuelled by fears that the government would prosecute their leaders for alleged wrongdoings.

“Another ‘coup’ is possible as there are no permanent friends or enemies in politics, only permanent interests,” he said.

However, Sivamurugan said another coup would be unhealthy for the nation, which is just recovering from the Covid-19 pandemic while struggling with economic uncertainty and racial polarisation.

“Politicians should move on with fulfilling their responsibilities for the people rather than using the mandate given for their personal interest”.

He added that opposition parties needed to focus on their role as a check and balance to the ruling government, which would then improve their reputation.

National Professors Council senior fellow Datuk Dr Jeniri Amir said Malaysia needed political stability to inspire confidence among foreign investors.

“Malaysians desire continued economic growth and a stable government, and not another change of power.

“The only way to put a stop to all this is when Perikatan Nasional’s top leaders put the nation’s interests above their own,” he said.